- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007

Slew of stars on ABC

A busy week on the pilot-casting front has landed a number of well-known actors, including Chi McBride, Ving Rhames and Samaire Armstrong, in ABC drama projects.

Mr. McBride, fresh from ABC’s failed drama, “The Nine,” will star with Lee Pace in the offbeat drama “Pushing Daisies,” reports Zap2it.com, citing a story in the Hollywood Reporter.

“Pushing Daisies” follows a man (Mr. Pace) whose touch can revive the dead. Mr. McBride, whose TV resume includes “Boston Public” and “Killer Instinct,” will play a private eye who partners with Mr. Pace’s character.

Mr. Rhames — a Golden Globe winner for his portrayal of Don King on HBO’s “Only In America” — has joined the cast of “Football Wives,” and Miss Armstrong (“The O.C.,” “Entourage”) and Zoe McLellan will get some “Dirty Sexy Money.”

Mr. Rhames (“Pulp Fiction,” “Mission: Impossible III”) will play the general manager of the team at the center of “Football Wives,” an Americanized version of the British show “Footballers’ Wives.” He starred in the CW’s “Mercy Reef”/Aquaman pilot last year and played the title role in USA’s “Kojak” remake.

In “Dirty Sexy Money,” a drama about a wealthy New York family and its harried lawyer (“Six Feet Under’s” Peter Krause), Miss Armstrong will play a wild-child heiress. In addition to her recurring part on “The O.C.,” Miss Armstrong has appeared on “Entourage” and in the film “Just My Luck.” Miss McLellan (“JAG”) will play Mr. Krause’s wife.

Also at ABC, Bailee Madison (“Bridge to Terabithia”) has joined the cast of “Judy’s Got a Gun.”

The CW, meanwhile, has cast Ryan Devlin, Hank Harris and Ryan Merriman in two of its drama pilots.

Mr. Devlin (“Veronica Mars”) and Mr. Harris (“Popular”) will star in an untitled pilot from writer Tom Wheeler (“Empire”) about a pair of smart-aleck grad students who solve crimes. Mr. Merriman (“Taken,” “The Pretender”) has been cast in “Gravity,” about rookie cops in Los Angeles.

‘Idol’ touch for Emmy

With the current season of “American Idol” performing better than ever, Fox has tapped producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick to executive produce this year’s Emmy Awards, TVWeek.com reports.

“Nigel and Ken have consistently raised the creative bar with their innovative work on ‘American Idol,’ and we believe they will continue to do so during their first Emmy telecast,” said Peter Liguori, president of entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Co.

Emmycast viewership has declined in recent years and Fox likely hopes the “Idol” duo will bring some of the reality show’s ratings’ heft to the proceedings. In making the announcement, the producers gave little indication as to how their Emmy Awards broadcast might differ from past years.

“While appreciating the traditional and maintaining the high standards of past Emmy Award ceremonies, we will also be recognizing the ever-changing landscape of today’s successful television,” Mr. Lythgoe told TVWeek.com. “It is a great honor and a wonderful challenge.”

The Emmys will be telecast live, Sept. 16, from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

On tap tonight

m Starz InBlack has a half-hour special, “The Making of Delirious,” about Oscar nominee Eddie Murphy’s famous 1983 concert film, tonight at 10:30. Byron Allen hosts.

• Cable’s WE delves into a sobering subject with “Women on Death Row 2,” tonight at 9. Christa Pike — who, in 1996, was convicted for the 1995 torture slaying of 19-year-old Colleen Slemmer in Tennessee — is profiled.

• Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Kelly Jane Torrance from Web, wire and staff reports.

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